On Carry Fire, Robert Plant Honors the Legacy of Led Zeppelin
You could argue that Robert Plant's solo career began while he was still a part of Led Zeppelin. The band's final studio album, In Through the Out Door (1979), was an album where Plant, in collaboration with John Paul Jones, was primarily responsible. Crippled by chemical dependence, Jimmy Page and John Bonham were hardly in a position to compose their own parts; so playing what was written for them by the other half of the quartet would have to do. Loungy in tone and gentle in tenor, In Through the Out Door turned out to be the least typical collection in an already eclectic Zeppelin catalogue. It was a strange note for the band to end on, but in its way a fitting one. The album's wistful, elegiac dimension (particularly in "All My Love," dedicated to Plant's recently deceased young son) also ended up serving as a eulogy for the band, whose remaining three members agreed to part ways in 1980 in the wake of Bonham's alcohol-related death.
The echoes would linger for nearly a decade, as Plant set off on a solo career — "solo" being, as usual with singers, shorthand for "singing with different musicians." There was never an issue of matching his performances with Page, Jones, and Bonham; as Zeppelin and its fans knew, Rolling Stone covers from here to infinity announced, and critics slowly came to realize, the band's record was matchless. The question was whether Plant would catch a second wind, and if so, how. It took some time. His output throughout the '80s and '90s sounds, for the most part, like outtakes from In Through the Out Door: there's the same rubbery texture, the same rock-god-on-extended-sabbatical vibe. Plant's lyrics were still covering familiar ground as well. They were still deeply informed by folk tropes and spiritual images, still centered on what was traditionally considered the natural world: rivers and trees, birds and saints, Zen and nirvana, longing and loss. The work — all six albums of it — holds up well enough on its own, but necessarily suffers when set against the Zeppelin albums to which they can't help but hark back. There was no point in blaming such a wondrous voice; it was just that it would take some journey to exit the shadow of the greatest rock band ever.
Plant was hardly alone in being tied to the Zeppelin estate. Many dominant bands in those two decades, whether hard rock (Van Halen, Guns N' Roses) or grunge (Soundgarden) were fronted by singers and guitarists doing their best imitations of Plant and Page — the two of whom would finally, near the end of the period, compose, play, and tour together once again. The experience seems to have been cathartic for Plant; he returned to his solo career in a spirit of renewal. Raising Sand, his Grammy-winning album of cover duets with Alison Krauss in 2007, has been his most prominent achievement, but the freshness of that work also resounded in Dreamland (2002), Mighty ReArranger (2005), Band of Joy (2010), and Lullaby and … the Ceaseless Roar (2014), albums where Plant's long engagement with folk, blues, Celtic, Indian, and Middle Eastern sounds merges ever more seamlessly with a deepened appreciation for the tremulous heft and pace of bluegrass.
Released today, his new album Carry Fire further extends Plant's voyage and reaffirms his mastery. There's always been something deeply enviable about Plant's voice, which summons, more or less without effort, a sense of sustained astonishment. Tipsy with its own abundance, it sifts through what it describes; one feels as if the material world has been passed through a filter until only the best things remain. He possesses, in other words, unhindered access to the relation between the world's various folk musics and the natural world. He's classical, not neoclassical: there's never any sense of laboriousness, of template. He always sounds as if it's good to be alive. Much as songs like "Freedom Fries" on Mighty ReArranger addressed the Iraq War, certain tracks on Carry Fire allude to politics and history. "Bones of Saints" references an impending war; "New World …" recounts the European invasion of the Americas; "Carving Up the World Again … A Wall and Not a Fence" is informed by Brexit and Trumpism. In Plant's delivery, these dire events, and his resistance to their criminality, take on the inevitability of twigs floating down a river or a bird taking flight; they fit in with the songs of love and departure without a hitch. Looking back, this compatibility produces an eerie feeling, but in the moment nothing seems less strained or more natural. Plant is not a particularly personal singer: The self never takes priority over the material. It's not his emotions, but emotion itself that he channels, and if a certain distancing is the inevitable response from listeners looking for reflections of their own selves, it's ultimately a small price to pay for perfection.
Like a retiree who, after a period of aimlessness, discovers new pastimes and an improved relation to life, Plant has come into his own. He's always going to be remembered as Led Zeppelin's singer, but now he's clearly his own man as well. Though his voice can't reach the aching summits of his rock-star prime, in recompense he's gained a lower, darker register, a tone ideally suited to evoke the wonder, and embody the weight, of passing time. Fans may dislike his refusal to reunite Zeppelin for a reunion tour when Page and Jones are plenty willing, but the truth is that what made that band great was its willingness to face forward. It's no accident that so many of their lyrics focus on departure and the exhilaration of endless travels, nor a coincidence that Plant was responsible for most of those lyrics. So long as that questing impulse remains strong in his own music, he's honoring the spirit of the band far more than any reunion ever could.
*Washington Township is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 687 reflecting an increase of 66 (+10.6%) from the 621 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 184 (-22.9%) from the 805 counted in the 1990 Census. Washington was incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on November 19, 1802, from portions of Evesham Township, Little Egg Harbor Township and Northampton Township (now known as Mount Holly Township, New Jersey). Portions of the township were taken to form Shamong Township (February 19, 1852), Bass River Township (March 30, 1864), Woodland Township (March 7, 1866) and Randolph Township (March 17, 1870, reannexed to Washington Township on March 28, 1893). The township was named for George Washington, one of more than ten communities statewide named for the first president. It is one of five municipalities in the state of New Jersey with the name "Washington Township". Another municipality, Washington Borough, is completely surrounded by Washington Township, Warren County. Contents 1 Geography 2 Demographics 2.1 Census 2010 2.2 Census 2000 3 Government 3.1 Local government 3.2 Federal, state and county representation 3.3 Politics 4 Education 5 Transportation 6 References 7 External links Geography According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 102.706 square miles (266.006 km2), including 99.522 square miles (257.761 km2) of land and 3.184 square miles (8.245 km2) of water (3.10%). The township borders Bass River Township, Shamong Township, Tabernacle Township and Woodland Township in Burlington County; and Egg Harbor City, Hammonton and Port Republic in Atlantic County. Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Batsto, Bear Swamp Hill, Bridgeport, Bulltown, Crowleytown, Friendship Bogs, Green Bank, Hermon, Hog Islands, Jemima Mount, Jenkins, Jenkins Neck, Lower Bank, Mount, Penn Place, Pleasant Mills, Quaker Bridge, Tylertown and Washington. The township is one of 56 South Jersey municipalities that are included within the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, a protected natural area of unique ecology covering 1,100,000 acres (450,000 ha), that has been classified as a United States Biosphere Reserve and established by Congress in 1978 as the nation's first National Reserve. All of the township is included in the state-designated Pinelands Area, which includes portions of Burlington County, along with areas in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Ocean counties. Demographics Historical population Census Pop. %± 1810 1,273 — 1820 1,225 -3.8% 1830 1,315 7.3% 1840 1,630 24.0% 1850 2,010 23.3% 1860 1,723 * -14.3% 1870 609 * -64.7% 1880 389 * -36.1% 1890 310 -20.3% 1900 617 99.0% 1910 597 -3.2% 1920 500 -16.2% 1930 478 -4.4% 1940 518 8.4% 1950 566 9.3% 1960 541 -4.4% 1970 673 24.4% 1980 808 20.1% 1990 805 -0.4% 2000 621 -22.9% 2010 687 10.6% Est. 2014 673  -2.0% Population sources:1810-2000 1810-1920 1840 1850-1870 1850 1870 1880-1890 1890-1910 1910-1930 1930-1990 2000 2010 * = Lost territory in previous decade. Census 2010 At the 2010 United States Census, there were 687 people, 256 households, and 177.9 families residing in the township. The population density was 6.9 per square mile (2.7/km2). There were 284 housing units at an average density of 2.9 per square mile (1.1/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 93.89% (645) White, 1.89% (13) Black or African American, 0.00% (0) Native American, 0.15% (1) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 3.64% (25) from other races, and 0.44% (3) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 9.02% (62) of the population. There were 256 households, of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.16. In the township, 18.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 21.7% from 25 to 44, 33.5% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.9 years. For every 100 females there were 106.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.5 males. The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $96,250 (with a margin of error of +/- $21,869) and the median family income was $108,239 (+/- $9,762). Males had a median income of $19,946 (+/- $15,879) versus $41,250 (+/- $4,961) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $24,808 (+/- $10,822). About 0.0% of families and 21.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.0% of those under age 18 and 0.0% of those age 65 or over. Census 2000 As of the 2000 United States Census there were 621 people, 160 households, and 112 families residing in the township. The population density was 6.2 people per square mile (2.4/km²). There were 171 housing units at an average density of 1.7 per square mile (0.7/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 83.57% White, 2.90% African American, 0.32% Asian, 12.08% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.07% of the population. There were 160 households out of which 35.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.3% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.27. In the township the population was spread out with 29.3% under the age of 18, 3.5% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 24.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males. The median income for a household in the township was $41,250, and the median income for a family was $42,188. Males had a median income of $32,000 versus $31,719 for females. The per capita income for the township was $13,977. About 8.0% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over. Government Local government Washington Township is governed under the Township form of government. The governing body is a three-member Township Committee, whose members are elected directly by the voters at-large in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one seat coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. At an annual reorganization meeting, the Township Committee selects one of its members to serve as Mayor. As of 2015, the members of the Washington Township Council are Mayor Dudley Lewis (R, term on committee ends December 31, 2016; term as mayor ends 2015), Barry F. Cavileer (R, 2015) and Daniel L. James (R, 2017). Federal, state and county representation Washington Township is located in the 2nd Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 9th state legislative district. New Jersey's Second Congressional District is represented by Frank LoBiondo (R, Ventnor City). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019). For the 2014-15 Session, the 9th District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Christopher J. Connors (R, Lacey Township) and in the General Assembly by DiAnne Gove (R, Long Beach Township) and Brian E. Rumpf (R, Little Egg Harbor Township). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach). Burlington County is governed by a Board of chosen freeholders, whose five members are elected at-large in partisan elections to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year. The board chooses a director and deputy director from among its members at an annual reorganization meeting held in January. As of 2015, Burlington County's Freeholders are Director Mary Ann O'Brien (R, Medford Township, 2017; Director of Administration and Human Services), Deputy Director Bruce Garganio (R, Florence Township, 2017; Director of Public Works and Health), Aimee Belgard (D, Edgewater Park Township, 2015; Director of Hospital, Medical Services and Education) Joseph Donnelly (R, Cinnaminson Township, 2016; Director of Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Education) and Joanne Schwartz (D, Southampton Township, 2015; Director of Health and Corrections). Constitutional officers are County Clerk Tim Tyler, Sheriff Jean E. Stanfield and Surrogate George T. Kotch. Politics As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 536 registered voters in Washington Township, of which 85 (15.9% vs. 33.3% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 271 (50.6% vs. 23.9%) were registered as Republicans and 180 (33.6% vs. 42.8%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were no voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 78.0% (vs. 61.7% in Burlington County) were registered to vote, including 95.5% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.3% countywide). In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 221 votes (59.2% vs. 40.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 142 votes (38.1% vs. 58.1%) and other candidates with 7 votes (1.9% vs. 1.0%), among the 373 ballots cast by the township's 533 registered voters, for a turnout of 70.0% (vs. 74.5% in Burlington County). In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 250 votes (57.9% vs. 39.9% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 168 votes (38.9% vs. 58.4%) and other candidates with 11 votes (2.5% vs. 1.0%), among the 432 ballots cast by the township's 545 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.3% (vs. 80.0% in Burlington County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 272 votes (62.1% vs. 46.0% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 160 votes (36.5% vs. 52.9%) and other candidates with 4 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 438 ballots cast by the township's 558 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.5% (vs. 78.8% in the whole county). In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 156 votes (66.4% vs. 61.4% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 61 votes (26.0% vs. 35.8%) and other candidates with 10 votes (4.3% vs. 1.2%), among the 235 ballots cast by the township's 509 registered voters, yielding a 46.2% turnout (vs. 44.5% in the county). In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 186 votes (62.4% vs. 47.7% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 91 votes (30.5% vs. 44.5%), Independent Chris Daggett with 17 votes (5.7% vs. 4.8%) and other candidates with 2 votes (0.7% vs. 1.2%), among the 298 ballots cast by the township's 552 registered voters, yielding a 54.0% turnout (vs. 44.9% in the county). Education The Washington Township School District serves students in public school for pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade at Green Bank Elementary School. As of the 2012-13 school year, the district's one school had an enrollment of 37 students and 4.7 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 7.81:1. The school's $5.4 million building opened in September 2006. Since the 2007-08 school year, as part of an agreement with the Mullica Township Schools, Washington Township receives teaching support from the Mullica district and shares its superintendent, business administrator and other support staff. Washington Township students in grades five through eight attend Mullica Township Middle School as part of a program that has expanded since it was initiated in the 2007-08 school year. Students in ninth through twelfth grades attend Cedar Creek High School, which is located in the northern section of Egg Harbor City and opened to students in September 2010. The school is one of three high schools operated as part of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District, which also includes the constituent municipalities of Egg Harbor City, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, and Mullica Township, and participates in sending/receiving relationships with Port Republic and Washington Township. Cedar Creek High School is zoned to serve students from Egg Harbor City, Mullica Township, Port Republic and Washington Township, while students in portions of Galloway and Hamilton townships have the can attend Cedar Creek as an option or to participate in magnet programs at the school. Prior to the opening of Cedar Creek, students from Washington Township had attended Oakcrest High School, together with students from Hamilton Township, Mullica Township and Port Republic. Students from Washington Township, and from all of Burlington County, are eligible to attend the Burlington County Institute of Technology, a countywide public school district that serves the vocational and technical education needs of students at the high school and post-secondary level at its campuses in Medford and Westampton Township. Transportation As of May 2010, the township had a total of 54.31 miles (87.40 km) of roadways, of which 29.32 miles (47.19 km) were maintained by the municipality and 24.99 miles (40.22 km) by Burlington County. The only major roads that pass through are County Road 542 and County Road 563. Limited access roads are accessible in neighboring communities, including the Atlantic City Expressway in Hammonton and the Garden State Parkway in Galloway Township, Port Republic and Bass River Township.
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